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Here’s How the Metro ‘Safety Surge’ Will Affect Reston and the Silver Line

Weekend Metro track work outside of Reagan National Airport station (file photo)This morning Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld outlined the agency’s plan for working through Metrorail’s deferred maintenance backlog.

The “safety surge,” dubbed SafeTrack, “accomplishes in one year, work that otherwise would take about three years to complete.” It comes at a time when major Metro track problems and electrical fires seem to be increasingly commonplace.

The plan involves fifteen long-duration track outages between June 4 and May 8, 2017, to allow for extensive track work.

The goal: to achieve “safety and state of good repair of basic track structure.”

So what can Reston riders expect? First, there will be a moratorium on early system openings and closings — the system will close at midnight, seven day a week.

There are no outages planned for the new Silver Line track that opened in 2014. However, work on older portions of the Orange and Silver line will cause delays.

The following track outages will affect Reston Metro riders, according to WMATA.

Metro SafeTrack logo

Aug. 20-Sept. 6
Eastern Market to Minnesota Ave/Benning Road 
Impact: Entire line segment shut down
Service Reductions: Three lines affected. Orange and Silver lines running every 10 minutes, Blue Line running every 12 minutes.

Nov. 2-12
West Falls Church to East Falls Church
Impact: Continuous single tracking
Service Reduction: Trains on Orange and Silver lines each running every 16 minutes, but with additional trains from East Falls Church to New Carrollton

Metro SafeTrack impacts for March 6-14, 2016Nov. 12-Dec. 5
East Falls Church to Ballston
Impact: Continuous single tracking
Service Reduction: Trains on Silver Line running every 18 minutes, Orange Line trains from Vienna to Ballston running every 18 minutes

March 6-14 
West Falls Church to East Falls Church
Impact: Continuous single tracking
Service Reduction: Trains on Orange and Silver lines each running every 16 minutes, but with additional trains from East Falls Church to New Carrollton

In order to maximize productivity, all of the track outages will be continuous and will affect rush hour service. For the line segment shut downs, buses will replace trains around the station closures.

The safety surge will not only affect Metro riders, it’s expected to affect those who drive as well, in the form of additional traffic.

Here’s what Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) had to say about the plan.

After the jump, the full press release from Metro.

Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld today released SafeTrack, an expanded track work plan to improve Metrorail safety and restore service reliability.

Wiedefeld’s SafeTrack plan includes 15 “safety surges” over the next year that will accelerate maintenance on Metro’s rail system from the ballast up. By closing the system at midnight on weekends and expanding weekday maintenance opportunities, the plan addresses FTA and NTSB safety recommendations and deferred maintenance backlogs while restoring track infrastructure to good health.

SafeTrack accomplishes in one year, work that otherwise would take about three years to complete.

Fifteen “safety surges” are planned that will allow track crews to exponentially increase productivity and achieve safety results for customers faster. These long-duration track outages use either around-the-clock single tracking or line-segment shutdowns that will impact rush hour commutes. Metrorail riders will be encouraged to consider using alternate travel options while safety surge work is in effect on their line.

In addition, Wiedefeld announced a moratorium on early openings and late closings. Closure of the Metrorail system at midnight seven days a week will begin Friday, June 3.

“This plan is going to take some sacrifice from all of us,” Wiedefeld said. “But it is clear that the current approach is not working, more aggressive action is necessary.”

Following the review and consideration of traffic mitigation and alternate travel options by the Department of Transportation (DOT) agencies in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, regional law enforcement, Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Department of Homeland Security and General Services Administration (GSA), a final version of SafeTrack will be released for riders on May 16.

“Metro’s safety culture change depends on support from the entire region,” said Wiedefeld. “We have to begin by understanding that safety trumps inconvenience.”

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Metro: Morning Commute Plagued With Issues on Blue, Silver and Orange Lines

Metro SIlver Line Map/Credit: MetroMetro riders commuting to D.C. from Virginia are having a slow morning, after a fire in the District caused a wave of delays on the Blue, Silver and Orange Lines.

A fire at a substation owned by Metro, near RFK Stadium in Southeast D.C., at approximately 7:30 a.m. this morning closed the Stadium Armory and Potomac Metro stations.

As a result, Metro has suspended service between the Eastern Market and Minnesota Avenue stations on the Orange Line and the Eastern Market and Benning Road stations on the Silver Line.

Trains on the blue line are running only between the Franconia and Rosslyn stations. Riders are being told to transfer at Rosslyn to the Orange or Silver Lines to continue their trip.

Metro is warning riders that there will be delays on all three lines.

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Metro: Afternoon Issues for Silver, Blue and Orange Lines

Metro SIlver Line Map/Credit: MetroIt could be a long afternoon rush hour on “Traffic Tuesday” — even on public transportation.

Just after 2 p.m., Metro said it is having problems on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines and that it has suspended train service on part of those lines.

Trains are not servicing stations between the Smithsonian and Farragut West stops. Crews were already single tracking in that area due to track work. But a train had a brake problem at the McPherson Square station and became disabled, causing the bigger delay.

As of 2:30 p.m., crews were working to move the disabled train off the line at McPherson Square. Metro says expect delays of at least 20 minutes in both directions.

“Traffic Tuesday” usually refers to the day after Labor Day, when most school buses return to the roads and commuters return in full force after staggered weeks of summer vacation.

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Fairfax Planning Sends Transit-Oriented Master Plan to Supervisors

Wiehle Reston East Metro

The Fairfax County Planning Commission on Thursday unanimously agreed to send proposed changes in the Reston Master Plan on to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for approval .

The plan — which was formulated after nearby four years of discussion and numerous draft changes by the Reston Master Plan Special Study Task Force — was sent on with a few line item changes and last-minute motions. Read the entire revised document here.

Citizen development watchers Reston 2020 gave the final draft of the document — which will guide density, land use and future development around Reston’s three future Silver Line Metro stations — a letter grade of “D” when the plan was finalized last fall.

Reston 2020 was also not pleased with several changes marked up by Hunter Mill Planning Commission representative Frank de la Fe. Among them:

  • Allows additional “bonus” density for contributions to Corridor crossings above the already generous proposed development standards and “bonus” density.
  • Adds monetary contributions in addition to in kind contributions for vitally needed infrastructure improvements.
  • Eliminates the approval of Reston Association Design Review Board for new construction.
  • Says new institutional and government development uses should not be counted toward the development of workforce housing requirements to contribute $3 per square foot for new non-residential development.
  • Deletes plans for a parking study as needed to justify expansion of parking beyond parking space maximums laid out in the draft plan, relying instead on the phrase “suitable justification.”  The result will be excessive parking and greater traffic congestion, says Reston 2020.

However, at Thursday’s meeting, de le Fe verbally added these conditions, which were also unanimously passed:

  • A recommendation to direct planning staff to review with Reston stakeholders how to incorporate Reston design specifics into future planning. “Special attention to design has been a hallmark of Reston from beginning,” said de le Fe.
  • A recommendation to the Board of Supervisors to develop an inclusive process to prepare a funding plan for transportation improvements. “The planning commission strongly believes public and private investment in Reston is crucial,” he said.
  • A recommendation to conduct a detailed valuation and analysis of an enhanced street network, prioritize improvements and develop an implementation strategy for it.
The Board of Supervisors is slated to discuss the plan on Jan. 28.
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